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Kacip fatimah

Category: Medicines - plant based



Introduction and description


Labisia pumila (kacip fatimah) is a flowering plant in the Primulaceae family native to Malaysia. Three varieties of Labisia have been described: var. Alata, var. Lanceolata dan, var. Pumila.

The popular name for the plant is kacip fatimah ("Fatimah's betel cutter"; compare to tongkat ali, i.e. Ali's walking stick). Other common names of the plant include "Selusoh Fatimah", "pokok pinggang", "rumput palis", "tadah matahari", "mata pelanduk rimba", "bunga belungkas hutan", "remoyan batu" and Sangkoh.

The plant is used in traditional medicine of the Malay community, in which it's believed to contain benefits relating to women's health.


Labisia pumila is a small, woody and leafy plant with leaves of 20 cm (7.9 in) in length, and grows widely in the shade of the tropical forest floor.  It is a herbaceous plant that grows in low clusters, with solitary or rarely branching stems and fine, hairy roots. The leaves are oblong-shaped, hairy on its underside and can grow to 20–40 cm (7.9–15.7 in) in length. The inflorescence are brown and 5–6 cm (2.0–2.4 in) long.



The plant is indigenous to Malaysia, but also found in Sumatera, Java and Borneo.

Medicinal uses

Labisia is used in the food, beverage, and traditional medicine of the region that is its native habitat, and in the Malay community is considered beneficial to women specifically.

In such cases, the entire plant is boiled, and the water extract is consumed as a drink or used as a herbal bath.   The traditional uses of the plant include easing of childbirth, as a post-partum medication to contract the birth channel, regulation of the menstrual cycle, and alleviation of menstrual symptoms.

“While Labisia has a reputation in the Malay community to be the herb for women, its counterpart for men is the Tongkat Ali.”

The scientific research on the plant seems to indicate it displays estrogenic activity, which is why it has multiple uses medicinally.


Despite its long history of traditional use, the active components and mode of action have not been well studied, though some preliminary research has been published.   It has been reported that Labisia contains two novel benzoquinoid compounds, as well as gallic acid, caffeic acid, rutin, and myricetin. One study claims that the leaves contain significantly higher level of saponins compared to its stems and roots.


References and further reading

  • Wan Hassan, W.E. (2006). Healing herbs of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA). p. 201. 
  • Joseph Samy; M. Sugumaran; K.L.W. Lee (2005). K.M. Wong, ed. Labisia pumila, in Herbs of Malaysia. Times Edition. p. 135. 
  • Noor'ain bt. Shamsuddin (2014-01-20). "Kacip Fatimah". MyHealth portal by the Malaysian Ministry of Health. 
  • Jamia Azdina Jamal; et al. (2004). "Perkembangan Penyelidikan and Perkembangan Kacip Fatimah (translation: Advancements in Research and Development of Kacip Fatimah)". New Dimensions in Complementary Health (Forest Research Institute of Malaysia): 13–19. 
  • Singh GD, Ganjoo M, Youssouf MS, Koul A, Sharma R, Singh S, Sangwan PL, Koul S, Ahamad DB, Johri RK (2009). "Sub-acute toxicity evaluation of an aqueous extract of Labisia pumila, a Malaysian herb". Food and Chemical Toxicology 47 (10): 2661–2665. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2009.07.031. PMID 19654032. 
  • Karimi E, Jaafar HZ, Ahmad S (2011). "Phytochemical analysis and antimicrobial activities of methanolic extracts of leaf, stem and root from different varieties of Labisa pumila Benth". Molecules 16 (6): 4438–4450. doi:10.3390/molecules16064438. PMID 21623314. 
  • Ali Z, Khan IA (2011). "Alkyl phenols and saponins from the roots of Labisia pumila (Kacip Fatimah)". Phytochemistry 72 (16): 2075–2080. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2011.06.014. PMID 21784496. 

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